Our history and role in complementary health services in South Africa.
COCHASA the Confederation of Complementary Health Associations of South Africa, was established as a national body for complementary therapies on the 26th November 1992 with Mike O'Brien as Chairperson.
COCHASA made representations to Parliament about Act 63 which would grant some complementary therapies official legal recognition.
Intensive lobbying by COCHASA and others to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health resulted in an entirely new structure of the proposed new Interim Council.
A COCHASA Gauteng group formed in November.
COCHASA submitted to the Constitutional Assembly that Chapter 2 point 26 of the Constitution which reads:
26.1 Everyone has the right to have access to:
a. health care services, including reproductive health care, of the highest attainable standard:
should have the proposed addition:
b. 'health care services and practitioners of their own choice'
In May a 'bosberaad' preceded the 2nd meeting of the Interim Council, electing Mike O'Brien as the chairperson. Although he was Chairman of COCHASA at the time, his acceptance onto the Interim Council was not as a representative of COCHASA. He consequently stepped down as Chairman of COCHASA but remained our Honorary President for many years after that.
In August COCHASA-Gauteng held a large public meeting to invite debate and record the opinions of existing modalities as to recommendations and proposals concerning amendments to Act No 63 of 1982.
COCHASA National Executive and the Gauteng group supported the HPA (Health Products Association of South Africa) and organised public meetings, attended meetings with Government, lobbied for, and achieved changes within the MCC resulting in COCHASA members on the CMC and various sub-committees of the CMC.
COCHASA was invited to attend The Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC) meeting.
In May, COCHASA was an observer at the AHPC meeting.
COCHASA extended its membership to include Individual Practitioners as Associate Individual members and amended the constitution accordingly.
June saw some interviews with Femina magazine and SA City Life on alternative health.
August - September, COCHASA supported the intensive lobbying of Dr Abe Nkomo and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, Ms Lauretta Jacobus and her National Council of Provinces Select Committee on Social Services, together with appeals to the Minister and her special adviser, Advocate Patricia Lambert.
COCHASA supported a Nationwide Petition for Health Practitioners to practice their chosen profession and for the public's right of choice of their preferred Health Care Modality.
Confusion arose in the national complementary health arena as a consequence of the misinterpretation of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act (No 22 of 2007).
Some other organisations promised many complementary practitioners registration as Traditional Health Practitioners with the proposed statutory council to be established following the Act.
COCHASA member AASPSA wrote to the Department of Health and received a response to the effect that this bill only covered African Traditional Healers and not any western modalities of traditional healing.
COCHASA took the informed view that it was not a route for western complementary modalities to find a home of legitimacy.
COCHASA wrote many letters to the Ministry of Health (Marion Borcherds) to request a meeting to discuss a way forward for non-statutory complementary health practitioners but received no meaningful response other than an acknowledgement of receipt of the letter.
The NHTS (Natural Health Teaching Services) was established intending to assist modalities in achieving SAQA accreditation for training. Its view was to define the training standards and co-operate with COCHASA who would continue to serve the practitioner associations and individual members. Some COCHASA members joined this organisation as well and developed unit standards for their training.
This time marked an interim period for COCHASA, with the elected Committee rendered inefficient and hamstrung due to personal difficulties interfering with responsibilities in the Chair and Secretarial portfolios.
The interim committee and Honorary President agreed that COCHASA should continue to exist, given its proud heritage, and began to collate the administrative duties.
The committee redeveloped and updated the COCHASA website, and the Secretariat consolidated at AllisOne after the resignation of the secretary, with the interim committee supervising and meeting as necessary.
Previous members were invited to rejoin, with some success.
November 26th marked the 20th anniversary of COCHASA, celebrated at a modest lunch by the interim committee and Honorary President.
The interim committee and members of COCHASA were deeply saddened to lose the Honorary President, Ian Gillespie on April 15th.
Later that year, Ewald Meggersee, founder member and delegate of BSR for many years also passed away.
At the July AGM, the Association Executive titles were amended to reflect the actual dynamics that have evolved within the confederation.
COCHASA continues to hold the space for recognition of non-therapeutic complementary health associations and individual associate practitioners.